Putin wants ‘Korean scenario’ for Ukraine, says intelligence chief

Ukrainian general says Moscow unable to ‘swallow’ country but faces guerrilla warfare if it tries to divide it

Vladimir Putin is seeking to split Ukraine into two, emulating the post-war division between North and South Korea, the invaded country's military intelligence chief has said.

In comments that raise the prospect of a long and bitter frozen conflict, Gen Kyrylo Budanov, who foretold Russia's invasion as far back as November, warned of bloody guerrilla warfare.

The prediction came as Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine, said: "I think that in the near future a referendum will be held on the territory of the republic, during which the people will ... express their opinion on joining the Russian Federation. "

Gen Budanov said he believed Mr Putin had rethought his plan for full occupation since failing to swiftly take Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and overthrow Volodymyr Zelenskiy's government. "It is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine," he said of the new Kremlin strategy.



Officials in Kyiv said they expected troops attacking the capital and the embattled city of Kharkiv to move east within two weeks.

Western officials are determined to prevent Mr Putin from normalising a division in Ukraine. Korea was divided along the 38th parallel north from 1945 until 1950 and since 1953 along the military demarcation line.

Shortly before the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia’s president had recognised the two eastern self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk over which Kyiv has been in conflict with pro-Russian forces since 2014.

Mr Putin launched his so-called “special military operation” on February 24th, claiming that he was acting in defence of the Russian-speaking people in the eastern Donbas region.

Gen Budanov said Mr Putin was already changing Russia’s main operational directions in the war, towards the south and the east. “There is reason to believe that he is considering a ‘Korean scenario’ [for Ukraine. That is trying to impose a dividing line between the unoccupied and occupied regions of our country. In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine. After all, he is definitely not able to ‘swallow the entire country’.”


Russia has been bogged down in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol in its attempts to create a land corridor between Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, and the Donbas region.

Gen Budanov said he did not believe Mariupol would fall soon and that Russian troops would face guerrilla tactics even if it did manage to defeat the experienced Azov battalion in the flattened city.

In a separate development, Vadym Denysenko, the Ukrainian interior ministry adviser, said Russia was trying to destroy Ukrainian fuel and food storage depots, as firefighters battled for 13 hours to put out a blaze in the western city of Lviv after multiple missile attacks on Saturday night.

The two targets of the attacks, after which black smoke billowed across Lviv's historic horizon of steeples and domed cathedral, were a fuel depot and a factory used for repairing tanks, anti-aircraft systems and radar stations. Both were close to apartment blocks and only a mile from the Unesco world heritage protected city centre.

One witness, Dmitry Leonov (36), an IT worker, said the ground shook and people had been thrown to the ground by the force of the blasts at the tank factory. The windows of a local school were said to have been smashed by the force.

Fuel depot

The Lviv emergency services chief, Khrystyna Avdyeyeva, said the fire at the fuel depot had been finally put out after 13 hours at 6.49am on Sunday. Of those responsible for launching the missiles, which came from Crimea, some 1,200km away, she said: “Let them burn in the same hell. But our heroes will not be there, so nobody will survive.”

Elsewhere, in Kharkiv the authorities reported 44 artillery strikes and 140 rocket assaults in a single day, including on a nuclear research facility. In Kyiv, the authorities warned that Russians were increasingly disguising themselves as civilians to engage in sabotage. – Guardian